Qatar wins bid to replace China as AFC Asian Cup 2023 host

In addition to this year's FIFA World Cup, Qatar have now been confirmed as the hosts of AFC Asian Cup 2023 -- where they will also be defending champions after winning the previous edition in 2019. MAHMOUD KHALED/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Qatar will stage next year's AFC Asian Cup in place of original hosts China PR after seeing off rival bids from South Korea and Indonesia, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Monday.

The continental championship was awarded to China in 2019 but the world's most populous country relinquished their rights earlier this year as it pursued a zero-COVID policy.

The AFC re-opened the bidding process and the three candidates were considered by the executive committee on Monday.

"Qatar's capabilities and track record in hosting major international sporting events and their meticulous attention to detail are well admired throughout the globe," AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement.

"With their existing world-class infrastructure and unrivalled hosting capabilities, we are confident that Qatar will stage a worthy spectacle befitting the prestige and stature of Asia's crown jewel."

The Qatar Football Association (QFA) has proposed that the 24-team tournament be shifted from its original dates in June and July next year to run for a month from Jan. 24, 2024, its spokesman, Ali Al Salat, told Reuters.

The Gulf Arab state has staged the Asian Cup twice before, in 1988 and 2011, and it won the last tournament, in the United Arab Emirates, in 2019. The Asian Cup is held every four years.

The gas and oil-rich country has built seven stadiums and upgraded another around the capital Doha to host the 32-team FIFA World Cup in November and December. The QFA is proposing all eight be used for the Asian Cup, Al Salat said.

The 24-team Asian Cup is now likely to be shifted from its original dates in June and July to later in 2023, or even into early 2024, to ensure matches are not played during the worst of the summer heat.

South Korea had been favourites to be awarded the hosting rights as the country had not staged the finals since 1960, when they won the second of their two Asian titles.

Indonesia had been considered outsiders because of the lack of stadium infrastructure in the country, even more so after more than 130 people died in a stampede at a match at Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java on Oct. 1.

The AFC said the executive meeting had opened with the offer of "heartfelt condolences" to the Indonesian FA "as well as the families and loved ones of the precious lives lost".

Qatar was also one of three nations bidding to stage the 2027 edition of the Asian Cup after Iran and Uzbekistan withdrew expressions of interest.

The AFC executive committee on Monday shortlisted the bids from India and Saudi Arabia for that tournament with a final decision to be made at their next meeting in February.